Monday, December 5, 2011

Moulson 4-Goal Outburst highlights weekend

Matt Moulson's four-goal game in a wild Islanders' 5-4 win at Dallas the other night highlighted a busy weekend in the league. The Isles' leading sniper needed all four to boost the club to an important victory- helping his club complete a successful road trip in which they went 3-0-1. The only defeat came to Chicago via a shootout.

Could this be the turnaround the Islanders need? At 8-11-5 with 21 points, they still have a long way to go. But with teams such as the Sabres, Caps, Bolts and Habs up and down, it's allowed Jack Capuano's club to hang around. The Devils' recent struggles away from Newark have them in a similar bind with Ilya Kovalchuk front and center for the wrong reasons. Toss in a goalie controversy along with inconsistency from captain Zach Parise and the Devs need to get the ship righted. While the Isles return home for tough tests against Tampa, Chicago and Pittsburgh, New Jersey visits the Leafs tomorrow before returning home to host the Senators and Canadiens. Potential three-point games unless the Devs can win in regulation. Something they've done seven times as Hasan noted in a previous entry.

While the Islanders and Devils continue to face stiff challenges in a topsy turvy East, the Rangers play host to Toronto tonight following a come from behind 4-2 win at Tampa. Their fifth consecutive triumph didn't come easy with John Tortorella's cohesive unit rallying from one-goal deficits twice, reeling off the final three to beat a team that gave them fits last year. The Bolts won all four meetings in '10-11. Ever improving Derek Stepan sparked them to the win along with Artem Anismov with each scoring big goals to stun Tampa Bay. It was a forced turnover by gritty leader Ryan Callahan that allowed Stepan and Anisimov to combine on the tying marker. Late in the third, a yeoman effort from Anisimov created enough chaos in front for Stepan to bang home the winner. Even better, ex-Bolt hero Brad Richards sealed it with an empty netter after earlier setting up another former Lightning Ruslan Fedotenko earlier. A special return for each.

The Blueshirts continue to get unbelievable D from second-year man Ryan McDonagh, whose stellar play forced the Bolts into a turnover that led to Richy's icing on the cake. With the former Badger contributing in all facets, he has the makings of a future star. Combine that with the ruggedness of the league's leading ice-time leader Dan Girardi and the much overlooked Mike Sauer and the Rangers are doing just fine without Marc Staal, who's ahead of schedule with light skating. Mike Del Zotto has also elevated his play not just getting involved offensively but also sacrificing the body for the team. The play of the top four has allowed Tort to use third tandem Steve Eminger and Jeff Woywitka sparingly.

We'll see if they can make it six in a row against a dangerous Leaf squad that spoiled the reopening of MSG. Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul continue to assault goalies. It should be a doozy.

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